Canadian wrestlers

Canadian wrestlers pen open letter to Minister of Sport

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The Wrestling Canada Lutte (WCL) athlete community has come together to write Kirsty Duncan, the Minister of Science and Sport.

Canadian wrestlers

The initiative began with two workshops at WCL’s Gold Medal Pathway Camp that took place in Vancouver from December 7 to 9. Athletes discussed issues of safe sport in wrestling with external facilitator, Dr. Amanda Stanec (http://www.movelivelearn.com/team/).

As part of the working sessions, athletes had an opportunity to discuss and provide ideas and solutions in the areas of Safe Sport including, Code of Conduct, requirements for coaching, and behavioural norms both on and off the mats. Notwithstanding the gaps that have been identified, the athletes also identified the areas where there is strong support and positive momentum within the organization.

One of the issues that came out of these discussions was the need for an independent body to handle issues related to athlete safety.

“We want the Minister to know that athletes support an independent body to handle safe sport issues,” said Jasmine Mian, 2016 Olympian and Chair of the WCL Athlete Council and member of WCL’s Management Team and Board of Directors.

“It’s not only in the best interest of athletes, but also in the best interest of the NSO. What constitutes safe sport should be consistent across Canada.”

This recognition has prompted WCL athletes to send the letter, which can be viewed here, to the Minister.

“Athletes may be fearful of bringing safety issues forward to their National Sporting Organizations (NSOs). They worry about how reporting a serious issue would affect their reputation, team selection and funding. Even if an NSO has a fair process for reviewing and handling these serious issues, athletes may not perceive that the process is free of bias. Coaches and parents often feel the same way. You don’t want to raise an issue if you think it could adversely affect an athlete’s career,” added Mian.

“We can’t go back in time and change the experiences of athletes, but we can think critically about what can be done to rebuild trust. The independent body would be a great first step and we hope the Minister of Science and Sport hears us.”

“We support the athletes in their desire for an independent body to manage complaints and code of conduct violations,” said Executive Director Tamara Medwidsky. “WCL will continue its efforts in developing a framework that meets the needs of the wrestling community and will continue to support the efforts in the development of a pan-Canadian strategy.”

WCL is committed to moving forward with Safe Sport initiatives and fostering an environment of trust and transparency. Priorities for 2019 include:

  • Striking a national Safety First Task force to review recommendations stemming from the Report Concerning Independent Review of Coaching Culture for WCL and to map out a strategy to prioritize and implement the most important initiatives.
  • Committing to engage athletes and coaches in the process.
  • Committing to doing a ‘pulse check’ in June and December 2019 with athletes and coaches to monitor progress and make necessary adjustments.

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